Blackfish, a documentary about orcas, also known as killer whales, living in captivity opened in UK cinemas yesterday. It is the most haunting movie I have ever seen in my life. Even more so as the movie isn’t fiction but bitter reality. Blackfish tells the story of human domination over fascinating animals that are designed by nature to live freely, exempt from domination.
Orcas were once regarded as simple predators, but today we know they are gentle, complex, highly evolved, intelligent and social mammals who in the wild, live in close-knit matriline societies. They travel up to 100 miles a day and use a special language and sonar (which varies from family to family) to communicate, navigate and find food.
Blackfish shows the brutal capture of these fascinating mammals, their extraction from their families, kicking and screaming in the net. Babies are taken from their lactating mothers. The seemingly trivial justification for this atrocity is that they can then be displayed in man-made marine parks, effectively condemned to live in tiny, concrete, chlorinated swimming pools and forced to perform mindless tricks in front of gawking spectators.
Captive orcas, who often dont survive past their teens but live up to 90 years in the wild, are driven mad by these inhumane conditions. Blackfish makes mention that there have been over 70 attacks on trainers by captive orcas, contrasted with zero attacks in the wild.
My interest in orcas was first aroused by watching the emotional French drama “Rust and Bone” about an orca trainer (Marion Cotillard) who suffers an accident during an orca show, leaving her paralysed.
Marion Cotillard on orcas living in captivity:
“I cannot understand how we humans can take these magnificent wild beings, put them in a swimming pool to see them jump for our pleasure. It’s horrible.”
The one dissappointing aspect of Blackfish the movie is that it doesn’t offer a solution to the problem. It’s not rocket science to work out that buying tickets to Sea World and other orca/dolphin marine parks is only contributing to the continued suffering of orcas. After watching the movie, I am left with a sad feeling of helplessness and the hope that humans will look back at Sea World in 50 years and shake their heads at the barbaric display of caged wild animals more intelligent than any other mammal, humans included.
Please don’t support them by buying tickets.
For further watching: